Ventilators and intensive care beds are a crucial, but limited commodity in Wisconsin hospitals. Department of Health Services can’t say how many of either are available as hospitals and clinics brace for a wave of new patients ill with the potentially fatal COVID-19 coronavirus.

DHS Secretary Andrea Palm and chief medical officer Ryan Westergaard explained during Tuesday’s media conference call that state officials are still gathering information from health systems and hospitals about their capacity and what they need to respond to coronavirus.

Nationwide shortages of supplies could leave Wisconsin and other individual states short of critical resources. It’s another reason why “social distancing” remains so important.

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